'Our Land' takes a look back at five years of the state's landscape - Albuquerque Journal

‘Our Land’ takes a look back at five years of the state’s landscape

From left, the team behind “Our Land,” Laura Paskus, Antony Lostetter, Benjamin Yazza and Kevin Maestas. The TV series is marking its fifth anniversary on New Mexico PBS. (Courtesy of Laura Paskus)

Laura Paskus is one with the land.

She’s been reporting on environment issues for the better part of a decade.

And the New Mexico PBS show, “Our Land,” is celebrating its fifth anniversary. The one-hour special will air at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, on channel 5.1. It will also stream on the PBS Video app.

“The show is really an excuse for me to talk some more about climate change,” Paskus says. “The time has gone by fast. It’s been neat to go back and put the special together. Looking back at the show from five years ago, there are many topics that are still relevant. We are battling the same issues. Sometimes I think I get frustrated on climate change because we’ve been talking about global warming affects farming and fires. We’re seeing those effects today in New Mexico.”

“Our Land” explores the state’s landscapes with an eye toward understanding issues including climate change, habitat restoration, community farming, wildfire management, traditional knowledge and more.

Paskus and crew have gone from remote canyons to the wall along the border with Mexico, visited the Gila River, and explored the bosque in Albuquerque, wanting to help all New Mexicans understand forest ecology, policy, urban wildlife and more.

Paskus says over the past five years, each episode of “Our Land,” whether it was a field piece or a studio interview, has been guided by a love of place.

This is also the reason Paskus wants to bring attention to climate change.

“It’s crazy watching these incredible heat waves,” she says. “Scientists have been talking about them and predicting them for some time. They are becoming longer and hotter. Clearly the impact to humans and the death toll is sobering. What is really scaring me is the impact on wildlife. In England, they are not able to deal with 104 degree temperatures. To see what we have so far, goes in terms of mitigation and adaptation.”

While it was difficult to pick out the highlights from five years, Paskus says here are few examples of what is featured in the special:

The Rio Grande’s Drier Future (April 2021): Explores something that affects all New Mexicans – how climate change is making this desert state more arid.

• “Our Land” has covered groundwater wells dropping in the east mountains, the Rio Grande drying and what record low snow packs can mean. Not just during one season, but cumulatively over time. In this 2018 interview, climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck explains how warming affects the amount of water we have in the Southwest.

Santa Ana Pueblo Works to Restore Habitat (Sept. 2017): At the Pueblo of Santa Ana, elders, young people and scientists are all learning from the past and looking toward the future. In this 2017 show from the first season, viewers learn about habitat restoration and wildlife.

Benefits from the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Project (Dec. 2017): New Mexico students are learning about changes in ecosystems and they’re helping scientists understand them better, too.

Together for Brothers (Oct. 2021): Getting outside offers everyone great learning experiences. But many public lands, even right here in Albuquerque, aren’t accessible to everyone, but some young men of color are changing that.

Students Call for UNM Fossil Fuels Divestment (Nov. 2021): Young people keep telling us how scary the climate changed world is. Many of them have even talked about how a lack of action on climate change has made them question the need to go to college or it’s made them feel like they won’t someday have families of their own. Demanding action, students at UNM are calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies.

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

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